gothic: the making of a monster


Why Build Your Own Pinball Machine?
Ever since we rediscovered pinball not too long ago, we've wanted to "roll our own", so to speak. At first, Sparky suggested getting a Black Knight 2000, since she'd played that a bit in college and remembered it as being pretty cool (it is). We found one in good condition and brought it home. Then we got to thinking -- wouldn't it be neat to customize a pin, or better yet -- build a completely new one? One night not long after, the Pinfool came home with three old '70's electromechanical pins (two "Red Baron"s and a "Hee Haw") in spurious condition, and thus the adventure began.

Who Are You?
The Pinfool is a game programmer and all around mad scientist, and Sparky's a graphic designer (and just plain mad). The Pinfool is building the beast -- doing the programming, and constructing the playfield parts. Sparky is handling the art, sound FX, and original music. We're both contributing to the game design.

mephistopheles plastic What Does "Gothic" Mean?
"Gothic Horror" is a literary term generally accepted as referring to dark 19th century tales of death, ghosts, vampires, etc. "Frankenstein", "Dracula", and the works of Edgar Allan Poe are Gothic works. "Gothic" also describes a style of 12th-16th century art and architecture which experienced a revival in the Victorian era.

In popular culture, Gothic can describe an alternative style of dress and music that echo the Victorian Gothic period, as well as an interest in dark music and art. This movement grew out of the punk and New Modern styles of the late 70's and 1980's. Musical groups like The Cure, Bauhaus, Dead Can Dance, NIN, and other dark, brooding music are popular with Gothic folk. Tim Burton movies such as "Edward Scissorhands" and "The Nightmare Before Christmas", graphic novels such as "The Crow" and "Sandman", and the art and writings of Edward Gorey are also reflective of the Gothic style.

lumiette plastic We've taken inspiration from all this to build Gothic: The Pinball. Combining elements of horror tales, Gothic architecture, and dark music with the everpresent battle between good and evil, life and death, seemed ideal for a complex and artistically interesting game.

Why Are You Using Windows 95?
We're using Win95 in order to utilize the existing multimedia libraries and development tools. This saves the effort of having to write sound drivers, video drivers, etc. Win95 also provides networking. It's also what the Pinfool is familiar with in programming right now. See Software for more details.

But I heard that Windows isn't a real-time operating system!
It's not. Usually it provides good performance, but occasionally you can have delays of a couple hundred milliseconds, which can be problematic in the pinball evironment. We've gotten around this by offloading the realtime requirements to a slave PC running DOS. As above, see Software for more details.


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